With 'Sparkles' lighting up screens nationwide, Mike Epps, who stars as bad boy comedian Satin, gives VIBE the most illuminating scenes of the musical drama.
As the sort of villain in the film, what was the hardest part about playing Satin?
One of the challenges was definitely people mispronouncing his name as Satan (laughs). People were just walking up to me on the set, saying, 'Hey Satan!' It was definitely a challenge to approach a role like that. It was a good roller coaster for myself because it allowed me to use range and become two or three different things within a role. I started off funny then sensitive then I end up evil. Every time it was time for me to shoot, I had to dip off into another side of myself. Sometimes it was painful ‘cause the women would look at me different on set. I feel like I might’ve did my job if I had everybody uncomfortable. Everybody said we knew [Mike Epps] was crazy but [there's] definitely a couple of jawdropping scenes where people are gonna be pretty shocked by the things that I do in the movie.
You also work closely with Jordin Sparks, who was known as a singer before she became an actress. Were you impressed by her performance?
No doubt. I didn’t do many scenes with her [but there was one where] I got upset with Sparkle and was really mean to her. [Her character] was really confused and I hate to say that’s the scene I connected with her but it was just so real because she was really playing the role of Sparkle. She really went there.
What was the ambiance like on set?
Mara (Brock Akil) wrote the hell out of that screenplay. Salim Akil directed the hell out of it. He gave everybody a comfortable zone to work in. It was so retro and back in the day but still new. We were happy, cracking jokes. They had good food on the set. It was definitely a party.
What was watching the girls perform like?
When they came out, they were at the nightclub [in] these little orange and black outfits and they played the main Sparkle song ["Celebrate"].They had the short cropped skirts with the ‘60s look. Their hair was mushroomed out. They killed it.
What's the biggest moment with Whitney in the film?
Whitney singing the gospel. Just thinking about it makes you cry because of how everything turned out, I think people are gonna really feel that. Her voice is so beautiful and serene. It was definitely a spiritual moment that went straight to the heart. The background people cried, some lady called the Holy Ghost. The energy was presented in the scene. I’ll never forget it in my life.